The Crystal Ball

The Crystal Ball, circa 1965

The Crystal Ball, circa 1965. Photo by T. F. Mackey

The Story Behind This Piece
By Tara O’Shea

The revolution of my father’s work has come to a very creative point in the art world today with the help of Doug Edge, the Cardwell Jimmerson Gallery and Gary Swift. With a lot of research what I’ve learned is that my father had many girlfriends and tended to give his artwork away as gifts.

At his last Terry O’Shea art show at Cardwell Jimmerson, “Actual Size”, a woman appeared at the gallery. Her name is Rita Crafts, a lady whom I’ve always heard about but never got to meet. She was one of my father’s first girlfriends and model and he fell very much in love with her. She stole his heart before my mother and my father did a whole sketchbook of her.

Rita had a son, Thomas Fallon Mackey, whom my father treated as his own. On Thomas’ tenth birthday in 1967 my father gave him a crystal ball. The ball is presumed to have been made in 1965 from polyester resin.

In February 2012 I contacted Rita and Thomas and was able to purchase the ball. Thomas wrote me a letter about what it what it meant to him and his journey in life.

Terry O'Shea in the Crystal Ball

Photo of Terry magnified by the Crystal Ball by T. F. Mackey

Notes upon the occasion of the sale of an acrylic sphere1

approximately 4″ diameter, created by Terrence Patrick O’Shea  (c.1965).

I received the sphere about 45 years ago, as a gift from the artist, at about the age of 9. I developed an interest in magic, performing illusions for neighbor kids.

When people would say, ‘a crystal ball!’, I would respond, ‘no, it’s acrylic!’ Now I think that’s a part of the piece, that it is an imposter, posing as a crystal ball, and posing questions of authenticity.

There was a time in my first years of college, in Santa Cruz, I had placed the ball on a wooden shelf covered with fabric. One afternoon, I was fortunate to notice the ball focusing the afternoon sun to a hot point, smoldering the fabric! Since that event, I’ve been very careful about where I place the ball.

For Tara O’Shea, Terry’s daughter, the ball represents a  connection to her late uncle Rick Griffin, who featured Terry carrying the ball in an illustration for Surfer Magazine.

I’ve cared for and carted, from domicile to domicile, this globe, focal point of home decor, and memories. Now it’s time to pass it on, to work more of its magic.

Thomas Fallon Mackey

(1) If Terry fabricated this sphere, it was more likely to have been polyester resin, a material which he used in numerous pieces, including “Viewing Ball”, a cast resin sphere about 3″ in diameter, circa 1968. Terry rarely, if ever, worked with acrylic.

"Who's Minding the Store" drawing

Right half of “Who’s Minding The Store” by Rick Griffin for Surfer Magazine, 1966

Detail of Terry in "Who's Minding the Store"

Detail of Terry with the Crystal Ball

In 1966 my Uncle Rick Griffin did a comic for Surfer Magazine called “Guess Who’s Minding The Store.” The owners of Surfer Magazine had gone out of town and left my Uncle Rick in charge to “Mind The Magazine” but came back to find that Rick had turned the magazine into a wild Sunset-Strip disco, complete with carnival rides and go-go dancers. In the drawing my father, Terry O’Shea, is clearly featured with his sphere (Crystal Ball) trying to get into the party along with fellow artists Ron Cooper and Ron Davis.

The discovery of the Crystal Ball along with Rita Crafts and Thomas Fallon Mackey has brought me to the realization that my father left many clues and pieces of his works with many different people. This is just one piece to a very large puzzle. The Crystal Ball is just the beginning. There are many other pieces of his works that I’m anxious to discover. In the L.A. Times article dated January 22, 1977 my father is quoted as saying to young students from UCLA who visited his studio “My pieces are cosmetic aids used by fortune tellers”. By mimicking everything in its surroundings, the Crystal Ball does exactly what my father intended it to do … magic.

2 thoughts on “The Crystal Ball

  1. Tara, this looks great! I love the picture you can see your dad in the ball and I love the blow up of the cartoon of your dad with the ball. Super Cool!!!

Leave a Reply